Rabu, 11 Disember 2013

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The Star Online: World Updates

Mexico lower house OKs energy reform, paves way for final passage


MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico's lower house on Wednesday gave general approval to a landmark energy reform bill to open up the country's ailing energy sector to private investment, paving the way for its final passage.

Earlier in the day, the Senate passed the constitutional reform, which aims to open Mexico's energy sector to private investment.

Lawmakers in the lower house must now debate and approve the details of the bill and give the final green light, which could come as early as Thursday.

(Reporting by Dave Graham and Gabriel Stargardter; Editing by Simon Gardner)

Thai anti-govt protesters briefly enter grounds of PM's office -witness


BANGKOK (Reuters) - A small group of Thai anti-govt protesters climbed over the walls into the grounds of the prime minister's office on Thursday but quickly left after they moved aside internal barricades, a Reuters reporter said.

The protesters said they wanted the police to withdraw from Government House. Riot police in the area held their positions and there was no confrontation. The protesters left after a few minutes.

On Monday, around 160,000 people massed around Government House and Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra called a snap election in a bid to end the unrest. The protesters have rejected that and say they want an unelected "people's council" to govern.

(Reporting by Pracha Hariraksapitak; Writing by Alan Raybould; Editing by Paul Tait)

All eyes on Thai military as protest leader calls for meeting to pick sides


BANGKOK (Reuters) - Anti-government protesters in Thailand pinned their hopes on winning support from the powerful security forces on Thursday to take forward a campaign to oust Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and install an unelected administration.

Protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban, a firebrand veteran politician, has asked police and military chiefs to meet him by Thursday evening and choose their side in the latest crisis engulfing Southeast Asia's second-biggest economy.

The politically powerful army has staged or attempted 18 coups in the past 80 years - including the ousting of Yingluck's brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, in 2006 - but it has said it does not want to get involved this time, although it may mediate.

The latest crisis in an eight-year, on and off, political conflict again centres on Thaksin, with protesters viewing Yingluck as her brother's puppet. Thaksin lives in self-imposed exile. He was convicted in absentia of graft in 2008 but he dismissed the charges as politically motivated.

Thaksin, a former telecommunications tycoon, courted rural voters to win back-to-back elections in 2001 and 2005 and gain an unassailable mandate that he used to advance the interests of major companies, including his own.

His opponents are Thailand's royalist elite and establishment who feel threatened by his rise. Trade unions and academics see him as a corrupt rights abuser, and the urban middle-class resent, as they see it, their taxes being used as his political war chest.

Yingluck was forced on Monday to call an early election for February 2, as 160,000 protesters massed around her office. But the protesters have rejected the ballot.

They want an unelected "people's council" to run the country and say Yingluck and her ministers should step down now. She is caretaker prime minister until the election.

"If a plane crashed with the whole cabinet in it and they all died, Thailand would still go on," protest leader Suthep told supporters late on Wednesday.

Thaksin's supporters have said they would weigh in to defend Yingluck if Suthep seemed poised to overthrow her. On Wednesday, pro-Thaksin leader Jatuporn Promphan promised to mobilise crowds that dwarfed the recent anti-government protests.

Thaksin's "red shirt" supporters brought central Bangkok to a halt for weeks in April and May 2010 in protests aimed at forcing then Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to call early elections.

That protest was put down by the military. More than 90 people, mostly Thaksin supporters, died over the two months.

Abhisit and Suthep, who was a deputy prime minister in Abhisit's government, have been charged with murder related to those events. Suthep was in charge of a crisis control centre that authorised "live fire" zones.

Formal proceedings start on Thursday and both men have been summoned to the criminal court. Suthep has said he won't go.

Suthep's campaign to oust Yingluck has been strong on rhetoric but failed to stop the government from functioning.

Missed deadlines for Yingluck to resign have become the norm for a protest movement that has openly courted anarchy on Bangkok streets in the hope of inducing a military coup or judicial intervention that, as in the past, might disband Thaksin-allied parties or ban their leaders from politics.

Suthep's statements have been bewildering at times. He has told police to arrest Yingluck for treason, ordered civil servants and security forces to report to him and not the government, and has called for citizen "peacekeeping forces" to take over from police.

(Writing by Martin Petty and Alan Raybould; Editing by Michael Perry)

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

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